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19 February 2010, 06:53 | Updated: 19 February 2010, 07:09
Pregnant women across Suffolk can now telephone to book an appointment with a midwife directly, at either Ipswich Hospital or West Suffolk Hospital.
Women can call the confidential number, leave their details and then a midwife will call them to book an appointment.
Women who wish to book a midwife directly can dial 01473 702666 for Ipswich Hospital and 01284 712851 for West Suffolk Hospital. Women can continue to book through their GP as usual if this is more convenient for them.
Dr Penny Newman, a local GP and Chairman of the Maternity Implementation Group at NHS Suffolk said:
“Early booking is important for women so they can be screened in time to make sure their baby is well and healthy. A telephone line provides local women with another quick way to see their midwife in addition to book through their surgery as usual”.
The aim of developing a direct access service is to make it easier and perhaps quicker for women to get midwifery care early on in pregnancy, especially for the small number of women who currently delay contacting the midwifery service via their doctor.
This service has been developed with the full support of senior doctors and midwives at both West Suffolk and Ipswich hospitals.
This new service is in line with two key national, East of England Strategic Health Authority’s Towards the best together and NHS Suffolk’s Your care matters strategic plans:
1. To record and increase the numbers of women registered with a midwife by 12 weeks, especially in areas of deprivation. Currently one in ten Mums-to-be in Suffolk don't get in touch with a midwife until after this time.
2. To develop plans to promote choice of antenatal, postnatal care and place of delivery, including direct access to midwives